CDCR awards contract for technology to block unauthorized cell phone use

By Dana Simas, Information Officer I | OPEC

CDCR has awarded a contract to Global Tel*Link (GTL) to provide the telephone service to inmates that will pay for the installation and operation of technology that will block use of unauthorized cell phones in institutions.

The technology, known as managed access, deploys a secure electronic umbrella around an area – such as a CDCR institution – that blocks unauthorized cellular communication transmissions, including e-mails, texts, phone calls, and Internet access.

Only cell phones on an authorized list will be functional. All other devices will be restricted to allow only emergency calls through. CDCR anticipates the Managed Access System will be operational at its first institution by the end of the year with other institutions to follow.

This multimillion-dollar technology will come at no cost to taxpayers as GTL is responsible for all implementation and operation costs. As the use of contraband cell phones is eliminated, more inmates will use the Inmate/Ward Telephone Service (IWTS) to keep in touch with family and/or friends. GTL will receive the revenue generated from the ITWS services.

The problem of contraband cell phone use by inmates has grown rapidly. In 2007, CDCR staff discovered nearly 1,400 contraband cell phones. By 2010, the number had grown to nearly 10,800.

 Inmates have used cell phones to commit crimes, organize assaults on staff, and terrorize victims. This technology helps to ensure the safety of other inmates, CDCR staff, victims, or witnesses.

Managed-access technology was tested last year at two Northern California institutions. The test – conducted over an 11-day period for approximately eight hours a day – detected 2,593 unique wireless devices.  The equipment blocked more than 25,000 unauthorized communication attempts, such as calls, texts, e-mails, and efforts to log on to the Internet from a smart phone.

For more information about managed-access technology and other efforts by CDCR to reduce contraband cell phones inside California’s prisons, visit CDCR’s Contraband Cell Phone webpage at: